Now, this wellness kick is expanding from its barefoot origins into the latest territory: natural motion. Considered by many to be safer than running barefoot, “Natural motion is a barefoot-like feeling, with just enough support and protection to guide the foot along its natural motion path,” says Thomas Maymann, design manager for the golf division of Danish shoe brand Ecco, which will release the revolutionary Biom Golf shoe ($225) this January . Maymann claims that the product, a lightweight yak-leather shoe that employs anatomically correct fl ex grooves and a sole crafted from direct-injected polyurethane, “will help train muscles in the foot and lower leg, increasing athletic performance and decreasing injuries. It’s all about letting the muscles work to your advantage rather than weakening your foot muscles through excessive support and protection.” Realistically, most duffers aren’t pulling hamstrings off the tee box, but Maymann cites recent studies by the University of Virginia and Harvard University that support the theories behind natural motion.
“They’re very light, and they’ve got good fl exibility, which isn’t the case with most golf shoes. And they’re wide, which is nice,” says top New York–based podiatrist Jaleh Hoorfar, DPM, who is not a fan of barefoot running and who notes that the Biom is a good hybrid of barefoot and regular-shoe tech. “Golf is not as demanding on your plantar fascia , and bio-mechanically speaking, you don’t need as much support. The only time you really need good support and cushioning is during the swing phase, whereas in running, every movement requires support and shock absorption through every part of the gait cycle.” While Hoorfar questions the location of the spikes (she thinks the shoe would benefit from having an insole with a metatarsal pad and a sturdier arch buildup, and she encourages anyone with foot issues — like arthritis — to wear orthotics with them), she found the Biom promising as long as you’re not wearing them on sand or asphalt. And, let’s face it, if that’s the case, you’ve got more than foot issues.
From golf to...
Newton Trail Guidance Trainer
These dirt-slingers employ Newton’s much-lauded sole technology that absorbs shock and then gives it back to encourage proper stride (i.e., on the mid- and forefoot) — and the cool lizard-green mesh gives your dogs plenty of O2 .
Terra Plana Vivobarefoot Hiking Boots
Unless you’ve got perfect feet, orthotics are a must with these sustainably sourced hikers, which worked (and looked) better summiting subway stairs than a trailhead. Translation: Move over, Uggs.